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Behind the Scenes at Brazilica

11 July 2018 by Sarah

International Slavery Museum Young Ambassador, Lois South, had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Liverpool Carnival Company and interview their Director Maeve Morris. Find out more about Lois’ experience here:

“Upon entering The Old Library on Lodge Lane, I was hit by a whirlwind of feathers, sequins and, of course, glitter! The once unused space has been transformed into what I can only describe as a factory of wonders, where founders Maeve and Roger Morris, churn out costumes and floats in every conceivable colour, with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.

“As a young ambassador for International Slavery Museum, I was able to get a chance to sit down with Maeve, to find out about her exciting life experiences which led her and her partner Roger to create the now iconic Brazilica Festival, back in 2008. This fantastic 3-day annual festival continues to bring all the amazing aspects of Brazilian culture to Liverpool – and yes, that does include the food!

International Slavery Museum Ambassador, Lois, with one of Maeve’s favourite headdresses

“While we were at the library, Maeve also gave us the inside scoop on the inner workings of Brazilica. I was able to have a closer look at the fabulous floats and displays that she and Roger had been building, along with their hardworking volunteers. The initial sight of feathers, glitter and sequins didn’t do any of their creations true justice. Maeve and Roger were extremely humble about their extraordinary achievement, in putting together the carnival.

“When I asked how long it took to create the Poseidon float, Roger merely shrugged and casually said “six weeks and five people”, as if this magnificent display of artwork and craftsmanship towering over me in all of its splendour was just light work.”

“From the bejewelled headdresses to the medusa float- it really was a sight to behold. As a non-native of Liverpool, who was previously unaware of Brazilica, I can safely say that I’ve been missing out.

“Our interview with Maeve is part of a series of interviews conducted for National Museums Liverpool’s Sankofa project and the ‘Seeds of Change’ Zine that myself and artist Seleena Daye have been working on about the incredible lives and works of 5 Liverpool women with the ability to inspire activism. I had the fantastic opportunity to learn how to record oral testimonies when we met Maeve, working alongside an incredible team including Seleena Daye (Artist), Christine Holt (Oral Historian), Stef Bradley (Education Manager) & Claire Stringer (Visual Minute Taker), to record our meeting with Maeve for the Sankofa Project.

An amazing feathered headpiece

“Whilst listening to the interviews I had a chance to reflect on what Sankofa means to me. The project not only explores Liverpool’s Black history, it also helps to provide a more well-rounded picture of the oldest Black community in England. A community which Maeve and Roger celebrate and bring together through their carnival and samba school. The ‘Seeds of Change’ Zine also aims to show that there many different ways to be active in your community. Activism isn’t just standing around with placards. Maeve actively works to bring Brazilian culture to everyone in Liverpool, young or old, male or female.

“This year, it’s more important than ever to reflect on the inspirational women in our communities. Whilst 2018, marks 100 Years since Women rightly gained the Right to Vote in the UK, it is important to consider the women in today’s world who will go on to progress the cause of women’s rights and take up space, both close to home and around the world. The fantastic work that Maeve does, could itself have a century-long legacy – and hopefully, Brazillica will still be going strong in 2118!”

Visual minutes of Maeve’s interview created by artist Claire Stringer (morethanminutes.co.uk)

About The Author

Lois is studying History at Liverpool John Moores University. She is a Young Ambassador for the International Slavery Museum and is currently working together with artist Seleena Daye to create a zine for the Sankofa project highlighting women activists in Liverpool. Lois is also a keen blogger on a variety of topic from carnivals to strange histories. You can check out more of her work at her blog The New Weird.

Our Sankofa ‘Seeds of Change’ zine will be available on International Slavery Remembrance Day this year so drop by International Slavery Museum then to find out more about the Sankofa project from our Sankofa team, Lois and project artist Seleena Daye. You can pick up a copy of the zine too!

Hello to the Terrace Tapestries

20 June 2018 by Sarah

Image copyright Jah Jussa

From tomorrow at the Museum, you’ll be able to see the Terrace Tapestries – the artworks which launched the Art of Football season, which is happening now across Liverpool. Entry to the Terrace Tapestries display will be free and everyone is welcome!

The FotoOcto arts collective instigated Terrace Tapestries as part of the Art of Football season and worked with The Florrie and artist Peter Carney to create the banners. They have been designed to show unity and cohesion across communities, which we love, and we’re proud to display them together.

Enjoy this blog by Jah Jussa, filmmaker and co-director of FotoOcto alongside photographer Tabitha Jussa, on the Terrace Tapestries:

“We’ve long admired the banners and flags created as fan art by the football fans of Merseyside. From the Everton 1984 FA Cup offering, ‘Sorry Elton, I guess that’s why they call us the Blues’, to Liverpool’s fan favourite, ‘Joey ate the Frogs legs…’ from the 1977 European Cup final, football supporters on Merseyside have laughed and coalesced behind fans banners – banners that some would call ‘folk art’ or fan culture, but which we consider to be true art and invention.

“The World Cup is the ultimate football tournament for bringing fans of different cultures and experiences together. As the World Cup 2018 got closer, and the idea of Art of Football was born, we started to think what if we made a banner for each country? How would each country represent themselves? And what would happen if we paraded them all through the centre of town before exhibiting them in the International Slavery Museum’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building? We set out to discover.

“We wanted a fans representation of their country – no flags, but we’d have the country’s badge on one side – we wanted to veer away from nationalism to a more rounded depiction of each country.

“We got famed LFC banner maker Peter Carney on board. Peter is world renowned for his Hillsborough memorial banner, and more recently for the Sean Cox banner that the players of LFC took onto the pitch after the second semi final against Roma. Peter came up with the idea of a circular banner, representing the world within football and set about making the prototype – England’s banner which shows Liverpool as the most successful football city in the country – a total of 27 league titles between Liverpool and Everton.

“We reached out to the communities of each country on Merseyside and we ran polls on twitter aimed at national teams, newspapers and fans groups to select the final design.

Image copyright Jah Jussa

“The workshops were based at The Florrie, in the Dingle area of Liverpool, and over two weeks the banners were created. Where possible we invited people from each country to implement the design. When they couldn’t come, we got local artists and community members to help. Samia came from the French community, Francis and Cleuman from the Brazilian community, Omar from Syria came and helped Paul from The Florrie with the Arabic script for his Mo Salah/Egypt design. And artists and non-artists from the Dingle got creative with the paint.

“In the end we produced 33 banners. One for each of the world cup countries and also an extra one for us. Omar wrote ‘Love and Peace’ in Arabic and graphic artist Slim Smith designed the ‘World united through football’ motif. On the back, we got handprints from all of the artist involved.

“With the images finished, the fabric was given to fashion designer Paula Johnson to make into the circular banners that you can see.

“Ultimately, what we wanted to show was that the world can be united, and if it’s through football, even for a four week period every four years, then that can only be a good thing.”

Find out when you can see the Terrace Tapestries at our Dr Martin Luther King. Jr building. Entry is free.

Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?

23 April 2018 by Sarah

Abolition banner designed in the workshop

As part of our International Women’s Day and #Vote100 programme, our visitors worked with textiles artist Seleena Daye to create a banner celebrating inspiring female abolitionists who fought to end slavery.

In this blog, Seleena shares the processes she used to create the banner and more about the inspiring women who are featured.

“So much of what we read around slavery and the abolition of it is very male centric, so to sit down with a bunch of women of all ages and celebrate through a medium often deemed as ‘women’s work’ was a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“The reasons why each participant made the piece they did were so varied, from the felt portrait of Sojourner Truth, which was made as a personal challenge to the creator as it was something she had never done and didn’t think she could do. To the embroidered portrait of the Forten Sisters, which was chosen because the creator of that piece is herself 1 of 3 sisters? The Mary Prince piece was chosen because Mary Prince came from Bermuda, like the grandparents of another attendee. Even the piece including an afro comb has a connection both to the creator and to slavery, bringing up discussions around Black hair and the heritage of hairstyles, for example around cornrows being used by enslaved women who, rarely being allowed time or opportunity to do their hair, may have desired a style that would last.

“When bringing the contributions together into a finished piece, I added imagery of other women abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Ellen Craft and also explored ways in which people escaped from enslavement, through the Underground Railroad, quilt codes and navigating escape using constellations. There is the quilt code included in the banner, that meant ‘follow the North Star’ and the constellation in the centre is of The Big Dipper which features the North Star.

“In the banner’s corner are some dates, ‘1865 – 2018’, making reference to the date of abolition in the United States of America, and the words ‘Keep Fighting For Freedom’ sitting next to a portrait of Malala Yousafazi, who is a modern day female activist fighting for the freedom of young girls, pointing out that POC are still not truly free. In the opposite corner sits a square with bananas and a cotton plant, things we use today, that one time were picked by the hands of enslaved people, and in some cases still picked by people who don’t have basic human rights.

“I have also included coloured hessian within the banner to represent the goods being packed into hessian sacks, to indigo and African batik inspired fabrics that are a nod to the continent enslaved people were taken from, Africa. I hand dyed the centre piece fabric which was originally a pale blue cotton. I dyed one end green and the other midnight blue, signifying the huge journey many people took, from earth to the sky. The central image of the banner is a silhouette of a woman in shackles under the slogan ‘Am I not a woman and a sister’ which is inspired by abolition imagery used by campaigners at the time, but can also be a message that rings true today.

“It was such a pleasure to be able to create something so important amongst other women who stitched and spoke of solidarity and hardships and how far we’ve come and how far we still have yet to go.

We are women and sisters.”

 Our new female abolitionists banner is here at the International Slavery Museum within the Anthony Walker Education Centre.

This workshop was part of our Adult Creative Offer.

Maggi Hambling visits

8 November 2017 by Sarah

‘Good Time George’ by Maggi Hambling. Copyright Maggi Hambling

Contemporary artist Maggi Hambling visited Liverpool today, to give ‘Good Time George’ – her painting of her close friend and Liverpudlian George Melly – to the Walker Art Gallery.

George was the most colourful son of Liverpool: jazz performer, surrealist, comic, raconteur, critic and author, often referred to fondly as ‘Good Time George’.

Read more…

Peter Banasko – one of the true greats

30 October 2017 by Sarah

Peter Banasko. Courtesy of the Banasko family

Today we have a guest blog by Peter Banasko. He is writing about his father, also called Peter Banasko – a Liverpool lad who became a world-class boxer and was asked to fight before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale. He later became an incredibly successful coach and manager. However, Peter also grew up during the era of the Colour Bar and this blog highlights the prejudices he faced. It is a fascinating local and community history and we wanted to run it during Black History Month. With thanks to the Banasko family for submitting it to us:

Peter Emmanuel Banasko 1915-1993

“Peter Banasko was born and grew up in Liverpool. He was the only child of a mixed marriage. His father, Isaac Immanuel Banasko came from the Gold Coast, Ghana. His mother Lillian Banasko, nee Doyle, came from Liverpool.

“He was named in the birthday celebration of 800 people who put Liverpool on the map. (Liverpool Echo 28/08/2007)

“He attended St. Malachy’s School and started his amateur boxing in 1929 at the famous St. Malachy’s boxing gym. By the time he was 14 he had participated in over 100 fights. At the age of 13, having over 40 undefeated contests to his credit, he claimed the distinction of being the first Liverpool boxer to bring home to Liverpool a British Title by becoming the schoolboy champion of Great Britain in 1929 and again in 1930.

“He was invited to box before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale.

Peter Banasko coaching. Courtesy of the Banasko family.

“At 17 he turned professional under the management of the Liverpool Stadium Promoter, Johnny Best Senior.

“Some said he was the best of the best but unfortunately for Banasko he fought during the era of the infamous ‘Colour Bar’ that forbade any non-white fighter from contesting for a national title. Again this vicious prejudice was evidenced in his marriage to Margaret McNerney, a Liverpool girl. A 300 signature petition was actioned to try and stop this marriage; it was unsuccessful.

“He was the first black manager/trainer in Liverpool, indeed in the UK. He was a friend of Douglas Collister (United Africa Co.) and also Jack Farnsworth (British West Africa CO). Because of this by the early 1950s Banasko and Liverpool were a household names in Lagos.

“His reputation as an excellent manager spread to the Gold Coast.

“According to the boxing purists at that time the black boxers fought in a distinct ‘unscientific’ style; they failed to master ‘the noble art’. However, their performances in the ring soon shattered these stereotypes. Banasko was a contributing factor in this change of opinion. When opposing boxers where facing the ‘Banasko camp’ it was not the boxer they feared but Banasko because of his knowledge and expertise.

“Banasko gained the rank of sergeant with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. His request for a commission was turned down. He was advised he would stand a better chance of a commission if he joined the Indian Army!

“This prejudice came up again when Hogan Kid Bassey won the British Empire Featherweight title. He told Banasko in the dressing room after the fight that he wanted a change of manager. Bassey had been convinced that he would not get any further in his career under a black manager. Banasko, disgusted with this prejudice and gutted by Bassey’s disloyalty, parted from the sport he loved.

“Ian Hargraves in his article in the Liverpool Echo (November 30th 1993) ‘Salute to boxing’s unsung hero’ on his death in November 1993 summed it up completely by stating:

Peter Banasko… a rare talent – one of the true greats’ “.

Peter Banasko and the boxers he coached to success. Courtesy of Banasko family.


If you enjoyed this blog, you might be interested in our Black History Month events throughout October.


Francois Piquet talks about Timalle

24 October 2017 by Sarah

Man with red sculpture - screenshot from Timalle film

Image taken from a screenshot of “Timalle”. A Film by Francois Piquet, 2017

Have you seen the Timalle artwork in our Ink and blood; Stories of abolition exhibition yet? It features draft reparations forms and is a re-enactment, through sculpture and performance, of the enslavement process. It is the first time this piece of contemporary art has been displayed in Europe. Come and see it for yourself at the International Slavery Museum. Or you can also watch an extract of Timalle film, by Francois Piquet, and listen to him blogging about why he created his artwork, and what it means: Read more…

Black History Month and family events

6 October 2017 by Sarah

Yazz Vanducci, author of this blog – is an Education Demonstrator at the Museum. Here’s Yazz laying out items for a family session about the Museum and the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade!

This week’s blog is by Yazz Vanducci, Education Demonstrator at the Museum. It highlights our events for Black History Month, as well as updating you on what’s happening for families! –

“What a busy time it’s been for the team at the International Slavery Museum! Firstly, we celebrated Slavery Remembrance Day (our 18th one) on 23 August and now we are in Black History Month.

Before I mention what’s going on for Black History Month, I would like to tell you some the new and exciting projects our team have been working on.

These include new family sessions exploring African myths and legends where we look at the many different stories from all over Africa and then create some of the characters from the stories.

You can also come to our gallery and learn about the Underground Railroad and some of the heroic journeys that people undertook as well as the people themselves like Harriet Tubman and William and Ellen Craft. Read more…

Zine Queen blogs on Saturday’s free workshop

2 August 2017 by Sarah


This Saturday (5 August), come and explore self-publishing as a creative method of activism in our free workshop on zine-making! Inspired by our Art of Solidarity exhibition, which closes this weekend. Here, Seleena Laverne Daye, who will be running the event, blogs about zines, identity and activism: Read more…

Uncover the secrets of the Underground Railroad – with computers!

20 July 2017 by Sarah

This is a secret symbol or quilt code to communicate ‘safe house’. It will be included in the Underground Railroad computer game. Credit: Belvedere Academy History Club

How do you create a “choose-your-own-adventure” computer game about a hidden history that was conducted in secret, out of sight and under the cover of darkness? This task was explored by five remarkable students from Belvedere Academy as they created a series of scenarios, each with choices and consequences based upon the Underground Railroad, the code name for a network of secret routes, places and people that aided fugitives in the United States escape from Slave States to Free States.

The project will be showcased on 27 July and 23 August as part of the Museum’s 10th anniversary programme of free events and talks, including its Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations Read more…

A collector’s eye: OSPAAAL posters

14 February 2017 by Sarah

Day of Solidarity with the People of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, 1968. By Berta Abelenda Fernandez. Copyright: ‘Courtesy Lincoln Cushing and Docs Populi Archive’.

Mike Tyler is the collector and architect who owns the striking array of 32 Organisation in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (OSPAAAL) posters currently on display in our Art of Solidarity exhibition. We asked Mike what he looks for when adding to the collection:

“The bulk of my collection dates from OSPAAAL’s founding in 1966 to the mid 70s, which is referred to as the ‘Golden Period’ of Cuban poster art. It is no coincidence this was a time of great political and social unrest with the civil rights movement, Vietnam War, Watergate scandal and struggles against apartheid all providing fuel to creative fire.

Many collectors are interested in the politics whilst some have an affinity with Cuba. For me, the appeal is their artistic merit, which has long been revered in the world of both propaganda art and graphic design. In terms of desirability, there is a big collectors market for civil rights and Black power material so these posters command the highest demand. Posters featuring Che, Nixon or the more well know conflicts such as the Vietnam War have a broader appeal. Then you have the more renowned artists such as Alfredo Rostgaard, Rene Menderos, Jesus Forjans & Faustino Perez who created some of the most iconic posters.  Read more…

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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.




We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.